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Muck Rack Review: Harness Social Media for PR

By August 15, 2016March 30th, 2017Guide to PR, Public Relations

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations” blog series.

Social media has become an open platform for journalists and newsmakers alike. Celebrities, athletes, politicians, and companies often make their official announcements via Twitter. Journalists publish and promote original articles on Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter can be an effective channel for your news release and you can change up headlines to see what intro to the topic gets traction. Born in the age of social media, Muck Rack is optimized to help businesses and journalists communicate through the channel that journalists have embraced like no other: Twitter.

Muck Rack began as a kind of media database for journalists’ Twitter accounts. As journalists started using Twitter more and more to conduct research, search for sources, and promote their stories, the challenge of finding each journalist’s handle, posts, and followings became tedious. Muck Rack made it easy and has since expanded its offerings to evolve into a full-service media database platform for PR pros and for journalists. It also pulls in articles that journalists write that aren’t promoted on Twitter.

For PR folks, Muck Rack is a way to find what journalists are tweeting about. Twitter is a great way to track what everyone is talking about by featuring the most popular tweets. Muck Rack makes it possible to see and track what journalists are talking about and writing about. Muck Rack has evolved into a platform that helps PR people to follow specific journalists and to learn what they cover, what they are working on, and how they like to be approached. Think of it as a media distribution platform like Cision or Meltwater built on Twitter as the database.

Unlike traditional media distribution platforms, Muck Rack is also embraced by journalists–making it a means of two-way communication between newsmakers and news writers. Muck Rack also offers tools for journalists to build online portfolios for their own networking purposes–with fellow journalists, publishers, and story sources, and promoting and tracking with work. Freelancers, for example, can use Muck Rack as a personal portfolio when looking for work. Publishers can use Muck Rack to look for writers. It has also become a tool for writers to just plain keep in touch. A lot of journalists use Muck Rack as a kind of media-focused LinkedIn,” says Muck Rack business development manager Teddy Bennett. “It’s how they keep up with one another.” This feature can provider PR pros with access to valuable information like a writer’s job history, beat history, outlets they write for, syndication of articles, their social media profiles, and more.”

Muck Rack helps streamline the communication between journalists and PR professionals. It discourages mass email outreach, which we know are rarely effective and can have the unintended consequence of alienating the very writers you are trying to reach. You can search for journalists by beat, past stories, publications they write for and more, and communicate with them within the platform. “Muck Rack makes it easy to follow and engage journalists on social media, keeping it simple and personal,” says Teddy. “Mass pitches are bad for PR people and bad for journalists.”

In addition to sharing what they are writing about now, the profiles allow journalists to query for sources for future articles and tell people how they want to be pitched–along with a “what I don’t cover” section to reduce irrelevant pitches. Writers also let you know how they like to be contacted and what kind of stories they look for in general, as well as features they are currently working on. Muck Rack founder Gregory Galant told Fast Company that the company is “trying to reduce the amount of spam journalists receive and give PR pros more intelligence on who to pitch (and who not to pitch) a story to.”

What’s New

Muck Rack has added powerful search technology that aims to go far beyond keywords and beats. “You can search for a journalist to find out what they are talking about on social media; you can search on a topic to find out who wrote about it or is writing about it; and you can filter the search by location, type of media, and specific outlets and build lists based on your search results,” Teddy points out. Muck Rack has added natural language search akin to Meltwater’s. You can also follow journalists, send private messages to them, and retweet their posts from within the Muck Rack platform. “You see much more than who is filing a story.” The list-building features on Muck Rack also have a notes section where you can store past activities, results, comments, and anything else related to a specific journalist or campaign for future reference.

In addition to searching Twitter, Muck Rack also searches all media outlets to pull in published articles.

You can also set alerts that will notify you when a specific journalist Tweets or publishes. PR people love this because they can get notified the minute a story about a client, company, topic, or technology is tweeted. Sometimes they are even notified before the story breaks, as writers frequently promote their stories before they are published.

Another great feature: You can add a Muck Rack extension to your browser that will show you who shares your links. This is great for journalists and PR pros. Yes, you can track clicks and shares that tell you who shared specific links.

Muck Rack began as a simple way to aggregate tweets by bona fide journalists–trying to separate fact from fiction, or speculation, on Twitter. As journalists began to build audiences on Twitter, the world started to watch what they were tweeting because, as Galant said, they would tweet while writing a story and you could, in essence, get “tomorrow’s newspaper today.” Tools to help journalists and PR pros and brand marketers soon followed. Now Muck Rack functions much as a full-service PR distribution system, all built on the Twitter platform. You can build media lists, send out stories, pitch journalists, and track coverage–all based on what the writers tell you they are looking for.

Public relations campaigns can be complex and time-consuming. Platforms like Muck Rack aim to make it easier by bundling some of the moving parts–research, planning, writing, relationship-building, pitching, analyzing, and reporting. Muck Rack’s use of Twitter to manage PR distribution means it relies on journalist and publications that make extensive use of Twitter–which is probably just about all of them at this point. For companies that are consistently running PR programs to drive press coverage and recognize the power of Twitter as a distribution channel, Muck Rack can just about take the place of a traditional media distribution platform. The one service it doesn’t offer is newswire distribution, which may be because the company doesn’t believe in mass outreach. Of course, a platform can only do so much. You also have to have a good, newsworthy story and PR strategy. For more on this see our blog, The Alaniz Guide to Press Release Distribution Best Practices.

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations” blog series.